Charges: 3 River Falls sisters found in beds with throats slit - KMSP-TV

Murder charges: 3 River Falls sisters found in beds with throats slit

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RIVER FALLS, Wis. (KMSP) -

Three young sisters murdered inside their River Falls, Wis., home were found dead in their beds with their throats slit and dried blood on their faces, according to murder charges filed Thursday against their father.

Aaron Schaffhausen, 34, of Minot, N.D. is charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of 11-year-old Amara Schaffhausen, 5-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen and 8-year-old Sophie Schaffhausen.

According to the charges, the girls' mother got a call from Schaffhausen on Tuesday at 11:45 a.m., saying he was in St. Paul and wanted to see his daughters. His ex-wife said he could visit as long as he was gone by 3:30, because she didn't want to see him.

A babysitter told authorities that Aaron Schaffhausen got to the home at about 1:25 p.m. and the girls rushed to the door, excited to see their father. After a short conversation, the girls went to Amara's room with their father.

The babysitter sent a text to the girls' mother saying he had arrived, and asked whether or not she should stay. The girl's mother told her she could leave, and the babysitter sent a text at 1:44 p.m. to say her mother was picking her up from the home.

At 3:30 p.m., Aaron Schaffhausen called his ex-wife to say, "You can come home now because I killed the kids."

As police were gearing up to search for Schaffhausen, he turned himself into the police station at 4 p.m. -- but he wasn't very talkative.

"The demeanor of the individual was, from my observation, not saying much of anything," said River Falls Police Chief Roger Leque.

Prosecutors believe the two older girls -- Amara and Sophie -- died from their throats being cut. The youngest, Cecilia, died from a cut throat and strangulation.

Investigators said there was a large amount of blood found on the carpet in one of the rooms, and a red gas can had been tipped over under the basement stairs, spilling gasoline on the floor.

Aaron Schaffhausen and his wife, Jessica, divorced in January. The papers were filed jointly, but there are a few signs that the dissolution of the marriage didn't spell the end of trouble for the couple.

"River Falls police records indicate there was a domestic incident in August 2009 at the Morningside residence, and a March 2012 harassment incident where the father allegedly threatened to harm at least one of the children," Leque confirmed.

The March incident refers to a phone call made by Aaron Schaffhausen as he was living in Minot, North Dakota; however, The Minot Police Department's report shows that the threats were made against his wife, not the kids. No charges were ever filed.

Officers in Minot told FOX 9 News they spoke with Schaffhausen, who said he had no intention of going back to Wisconsin.

At this point, it's still unclear what changed between March and July; however, what is clear is that the crime scene was horrific.

"I can tell you, I've been in River Falls for over 34 years and certainly, this is the worst we've seen," said Leque.

Aaron Schaffhausen is being held on $2 million bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 24.

The community is reeling from the killings, and grief counselors have been made available to students of Greenwood Elementary School, where 11-year-old Amara and 8-year-old Sophie were supposed to be joined by 5-year-old Cecilia Lee this fall.

A memorial service for the sisters will be held jointly on Tuesday, July 17, at the Kilkarney Hills Golf Club starting at 7 p.m. Visitation will also take place on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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